Today the whole family went off-island for my appointment with an orthopaedic specialist, where I learned that I have unusually flexible feet. This is apparently a good thing. I am now wondering whether my feet might be extra bendy because I prefer to go barefoot whenever possible, a habit that Alex and I picked up largely out of necessity (for the sake of proper etiquette) while living in Japan and have continued in our home here.
When I googled “flexible feet” in the car on the way home (don’t worry, not while driving), I discovered an entire movement called barefooting. It’s really fascinating, and what I’ve read so far actually makes good sense. According to Wikipedia, barefooters believe that walking–and even running–without shoes is “healthier for feet and reduces risk of chronic injuries, notably repetitive stress injuries due to the impact of heel striking in padded running shoes.” They also claim that shoes restrict proper circulation, leading to cold feet, but that barefooters’ feet stay warm even in cold weather, because they have superior blood flow.
I’m admittedly a bit of a wimp and not ready to try barefooting outside of the house yet (except on luscious sandy beaches or soft green grass), but I will definitely continue to go without shoes indoors, and now I know that I am actually doing my feet a favor by doing so!
The other thing I learned from the podiatrist is that the reason the top of my left foot has been hurting for many weeks now is an aggravated extensor digitorum brevis (EDB) muscle. This muscle apparently has to work incredibly hard to stabilize feet that are flexible to the point of over-pronation (or rolling to the inside), which mine do. It can also be irritated by over-supination (rolling to the outside), so it’s important to find the right balance between the two. The good news is, I should be able to eliminate the pain by manipulating my use of orthotics in my athletic shoes, coupled with deep tissue foot massage and some special exercises involving the use of a towel.
But enough about my feet. Did I seriously just devote four whole paragraphs to that???
Let’s talk about the rest of the day. Turns out there is a hidden gem (at least it was not known to me until now) in Anacortes: the John Storvik Playground. It is amazing! I took Zander there to play this morning for about an hour and half while his daddy did some work in a coffee shop, and we had an absolute blast. Then we ran a few errands together, and Zander had a little nap in the car while I perused my new cookbook, Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day: A Game Plan for the Budget Conscious Cook. After lunch, Zander returned to the playground with his daddy while I saw the podiatrist. He was so exhausted when we got home, that he fell asleep literally as we pulled into the driveway, and we carried him in and put him straight to bed.
Because we were on the road all day, I didn’t cook anything at home. However, I promised to post the recipe for yesterday’s Spinach and Cannellini Bean Dip, and believe me, this one is worth making!! It is so good that you will want to drink it straight from the blender, but I highly recommend letting it chill in the fridge for at least a few hours (if not overnight) before diving in, if you can wait that long. Zander goes absolutely bonkers for this, served both of the following ways: (1) as a dip for baked lentil chips and/or strips of whole-grain toast, or (2) as a sauce over whole grain pasta.
This is another recipe that is really easy for kids to help with, because outside of sauteing the garlic and wilting the spinach, it really just involves putting a few ingredients into a blender and flipping the switch, much like making a smoothie. Anyway, here’s how you do it:
SPINACH & CANNELLINI BEAN DIP
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic (minced)
10 oz baby spinach
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
1½ Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a skillet, over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add ½ of the spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining spinach. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes.
Place the spinach mixture, cannellini beans, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
CREDIT: Slightly adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network website.
If serving as a dip (with lentil chips, pita chips, etc.) or as a spread for sandwiches, chill in the refrigerator for a few hours (or overnight) for best flavor. If using as a pasta sauce, pour straight from the blender/food processor over warm pasta, and add other ingredients as desired (such as sautéed mushrooms, diced tomatoes, etc.).
Below are a few photos of Zander enjoying the fruits of his labor yesterday afternoon. I love to see him enthusiastically gobbling up something so healthy and packed with nutrients, and I also love the way his entire face (if not body) is covered in green by the time he is finished eating. I hope that you will try this recipe and love it as much as Zander and I do!